Mather Five-String Fretless Banjo

Description (Brief)
This banjo is marked "F. P. Mather 1860." It is a five-string banjo with a bird’s-eye maple hoop, twenty brackets, brass-plated fingerboard, and machine tuners.

Fred Mather was a well known minstrel banjoist of the mid-19th century. Like banjos marketed under the name of other well known performers such as the Dobsons, this instrument was likely made in the New York factory of the Buckbee company. It is typical of mid-century commercial instruments in having a fretless neck, gut strings and a bentwood rim. The machine tuners and inlaid brass plate as well as the present arrangement of 20 head-tightening brackets are probably later 19th century additions.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Mather, Fred P.
overall: 34 in x 12 1/4 in x 3 1/2 in; 86.36 cm x 31.115 cm x 8.89 cm
overall: 33 3/4 in x 12 1/4 in x 3 1/2 in; 85.725 cm x 31.115 cm x 8.89 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Estate of Fred P. Mather through Adelaide Mather
Additional Media

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